Showing posts with label Romania. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Romania. Show all posts

February 7, 2017

A Decree is Like an Exec.Order But in Romania the President Has to Rescind





A pro-government protester holds up a baby owl and an image of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis depicted as a Nazi soldier of Hitler's paramilitary SS Schutzstaffel organisation in front of the presidential office in Bucharest, Romania February 6, 2017. Inquam Photos/Octav... REUTERS





Romania’s president on Tuesday tore into the Social Democrat-led government over a corruption decree that has sparked the biggest protests since the 1989 fall of communism, but he backed it to remain in power in a potential reprieve for Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu.
The government on Sunday rescinded the decree, which critics said would have turned back the clock on the fight against corruption in the European Union member state, but some protesters have pledged to keep up the pressure until Grindeanu resigns.

In a speech to parliament, centrist President Klaus Iohannis admonished the government for issuing the decree a week ago "at night, in secret" without consulting parliament.
But he said the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) had won the right to govern in a December election and should continue to do so, a message that may take the sting out of the protests.
Hundreds of thousands of Romanians have taken to the streets for the past week in cities across the country, thronging Bucharest’s broad boulevards in scenes that will not have gone unnoticed elsewhere across Eastern Europe, blighted by corruption and cosy ties between business and politics since the end of communism.

"The prosperity of the Romanian people was not your first priority. Your first concern was to look after the penal files, and thats why Romanians are indignant and revolted," Iohannis told lawmakers.

Despite the crisis, he said new elections were not the answer.
"You have been saying in public that I would like to overthrow the legitimate government. That's false. You won, now you govern and legislate, but not at any price," Iohannis said.
"The resignation of a single minister is too little and early elections would at this stage be too much. This is the available room for manoeuvre."

JUSTICE MINISTER UNDER FIRE

Though his role is largely ceremonial, the president’s powers include nominating the prime minister after elections and returning legislation to parliament for reconsideration.
PSD lawmakers walked out of the assembly around half-way through the president’s speech. They later returned to approve the government’s 2017 spending plan, setting a shortfall of 2.99 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The Romanian leu firmed to a four-month high of 4.4800 per euro, before retreating to trade 0.3 percent up on the day at 4.4910.

Romania, a country of 20 million people and host to a U.S. ballistic missile defence station, remains one of the poorest and most corruption-ridden members of the EU.
The decree would have decriminalized a number of graft offences and shielded many public officials from corruption allegations.

Even after the U-turn, 250,000 protesters turned out in Bucharest on Sunday evening, with some saying they would not be satisfied until the government resigned. 
Around 25,000 rallied again in the capital on Monday evening. It was unclear how many might turn out on Tuesday night, but some protesters have said they will continue until parliament votes on whether to endorse the government’s repeal of the decree, likely by the end of the week.

One minister has already quit over the decree, saying he could not support it, and the Social Democrats have said they expect Grindeanu to decide whether or not to keep Justice Minister Florin Iordache, the architect of the measure.

The government, which holds a big majority, faces a no-confidence motion in parliament on Wednesday, when several PSD sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have told Reuters they also expect Iordache to submit his resignation.

"For sure, some resignations would be needed and probably inevitable from the government," said political commentator Cristian Patrasconiu. "This is what the street would like to see."
PSD leader Liviu Dragnea said he agreed with the president that an early election would solve nothing.

The governing programme is good," said Dragnea, whose current trial on abuse-of-office charges would have been halted by the decree.  f we let the government govern then the entire country stands to gain."


By Radu-Sorin Marinas and Luiza Ilie | BUCHAREST

(Additional reporting by Luiza Ilie; Writing by Matt Robinson)

December 11, 2014

Being Gay in Romania




“Back in the 1990s, it was dangerous to even go to the pub,” Andreea Nastasa said, of queer life in Bucharest, Romania. While one or two venues were known to be gay-friendly, or at least places where queer people congregated, the authorities posed a problem. “We were all afraid of the police. If we saw them in their uniforms, we would just disappear.”                                          
That’s because before 2001, queer Romanians’ public and private life was shaped by Article 200 of the country’s penal code. One of a number of socially conservative reforms introduced by Nicolae Ceaușescu in the late 1960s, Article 200 made “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. In 1996, the section was revised to prohibit only acts “committed in public or producing a public scandal.”
“You couldn’t hold hands on the street,” Nastasa said. She explained that gays and lesbians hanging out together used to designate a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” of the opposite sex so that they could pair off if the police came. “The police would ask us certain questions to be sure if we knew or were intimate with each other,” she said. This stopped after the full repeal of Article 200 in 2001  “because the police couldn’t just ask us for identification if we were together in a group of girls.”
Nastasa is the administrative director for ACCEPT, the first NGO to defend and promote the rights of LGBTQ Romanians. At the group’s offices in Bucharest, I met with Nastasa, along with Daniela Prisacariu, the programs officer, and Teodora Ion-Rotaru, the programs assistant, to discuss the legal status of LGBTQ people in Romania, as well as their everyday lived experience.
“The causes for [Article 200’s] repeal were multiple,” Ion-Rotaru explained. “Romania wanted to join the European Union, and the rights of minorities had to be protected” according to the Copenhagen Criteria for membership. Romania’s relations with the West and pressure to introduce anti-discrimination legislation came into play. “There was also the efforts of ACCEPT”—founded in 1994—“which advocated heavily for its abolishment.”
“During the 1990s, political parties did not discuss LGBTQ rights,” Ion-Rotaru continued. Nowadays, “politically there is a consensus within the mainstream parties that people should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. But that is where the conversation stops. Most mainstream politicians, even in informal discussions, will say something like, ‘Romania isn’t culturally prepared to accept same-sex civil partnerships.’ ”
Indeed, same-sex marriage or civil unions are not on the horizon. Klaus Iohannis, the president-elect of Romania, said during the recent election campaign that “nobody should be persecuted because they belong to a different group or they are different,” but he prefaced that remark by reiterating his commitment to the traditional family. The last time the Romanian parliament voted on same-sex marriage, the proposal was defeated handsomely, and in 2009, the civil code was rewritten to explicitly define marriage as being of one man and one woman.
Not to be discounted is the creeping influence of voices on the far right, including that of Iulian Capsali, a Romanian Orthodox priest who also trained as a lawyer, who presented himself during the European elections in May as “the candidate of the Romanian family,” opposed to abortion and “homosexual culture.” These voices are being amplified due to the work of external forces, Ion-Rotaru told me. “Russia, our neighbor, is exercising political pressure,” as are churches. “American pro-life organizations are also providing funding and spreading ideas in Eastern Europe.”
                                                            
In a survey conducted in April 2013 by Romania’s National Council for Combating Discrimination, 31 percent of Romanians said they would not feel at all comfortable around a gay person; 54 percent said they would never have a meal with a gay person; and 48 percent said they would be very disturbed if they found out that a family member was gay. “LGBTQ people are the second-most discriminated-against group in Romanian society, after people living with HIV and AIDS,” Ion-Rotaru said. “Eighty percent of Romanians would not vote for someone who is LGBTQ.”
How can these social attitudes be explained? “Religion is a very important aspect of being Romanian,” Prisacariu said. In the 2011 census, 81 percent of Romanians self-identified as Romanian Orthodox, with a further 11 percent saying they belong to another Christian denomination. Organizations within the church have been “getting better” at advocating against the rights of LGBTQ people, “changing their discourse and finding ways of achieving things through legislation.” Today, the Romanian Orthodox Church “is the most trusted institution in Romania,” Ion-Rotaru said. Instruction in the Romanian Orthodox faith is part of the education system from the first grade, and until recently it was a compulsory part of the curriculum. (That class is now something children must opt into rather than ask to be excused from, as used to be the case.)                                                         

What’s more, most Romanians don’t have access to decent information about sexual orientation and gender identity due to a lack of adequate sexual education in schools. “We have sex education, but it is usually about abstinence and abortion” and is taught by people who aren’t qualified, Prisacariu said.
The social climate, along with the demographics of a society where around half the population still lives in rural areas, mean there is problem with LGBTQ visibility: Few Romanians are willing to come out. At least in Bucharest, where there has been an annual Pride parade since 2005, there is something of a gay life. The city initially refused to authorize GayFest, telling organizers that it could not guarantee participants’ safety because soccer games were taking place at the same time. It took intervention by the federal government for the city to allow it.
“There are gay venues”—which are often expensive, since the gay community is a captive market—“but if you are in a group, nowadays in the central area [of Bucharest] you can go anywhere,” Nastasa said. “Of course you can go anywhere,” Prisacariu added, “but you cannot be open. If I kiss my partner, even in a venue that is really gay-friendly, it’s not that someone is going to hit me in the head. But there will be the usual guys who stare at you and make weird remarks, as if you’re some sort of extraordinary thing.” 
Liam Hoare is a freelance writer whose work on politics and literature features in theForward and the Tower. He is a graduate of University College London's School of Slavonic and East European Studies.

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